As the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office, I want to bring attention to two recent stories published by KSL-TV and the Deseret News. Specifically, I am concerned that the stories are inaccurate and have misled readers and viewers.
In these reports, which rely on hypothetical circumstances, the public was led to believe that FBI security measures are lax and, as a result, national security is at risk. The reports used phrases such as, "could result in a leak of information", "could have catastrophic consequences", and "could be risking national security."
Moreover, the headline in the Deseret News essentially accused the FBI of 'corruption' based on a quote from a single, anonymous source, with, apparently no substantiating evidence to support it in the article. This sweeping characterization is offensive to the loyal, dedicated people in this office who work day in and day out to keep this community and our country safe.
National security is the FBI's highest priority. Neither KSL nor the Deseret News presented evidence of a national security breach within the Salt Lake City Field Office, yet made such claims as: "KSL has confirmed that some classified information is being removed from the Salt Lake Field Office." KSL never explained how they knew this, which begs the question: How did the reporter or producer "confirm" classified documents were leaving the building?
This office follows strict protocols to ensure classified documents are properly handled and secured. Employees must have appropriate clearances to access classified materials or areas where classified information is stored. All FBI employees must have Top Secret clearances and undergo thorough background investigations. Unauthorized removal or possession of any classified documents constitutes a federal crime.
We also work with personnel from other law enforcement agencies. These are known as task force officers (TFOs), and they are critically important partners in the FBI's mission. TFOs must go through a process similar to FBI employees to obtain appropriate clearances.
To ensure compliance with FBI policies, anyone who has an FBI Top Secret clearance is subject to regular reinvestigations and polygraphs. Also, FBI employees are obligated to report any security violations they witness. The story's allegation that reports of security violations are "swept under the rug", or that those employees who report them are subject to retaliation, is simply untrue. In fact, there is a formal process for reporting violations. In addition, security audits of this office are regularly conducted by our Chief Security Officer, FBI Inspection Division, FBI Security Division, and the Department of Justice.
Finally, I was disappointed that both news reports granted anonymous sources with so-called "strong ties to the FBI's Salt Lake field office," a stage to voice unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing within the Salt Lake City Field Office. KSL touted its objectivity by claiming it conducted "individual interviews without the knowledge of other sources". Unfortunately, their assertions apparently were taken at face value by KSL-TV and the Deseret News.
It is important that the public understands the claims made in these stories are misleading. We, the FBI, are not afraid of criticism. The FBI is held to a high standard, as the public would expect, and on a daily basis tackles a multitude of issues addressing National Security, Cyber and Criminal matters. The Salt Lake City Field Office of the FBI, which serves Utah, Montana and Idaho, is firmly committed to its mission of protecting this community and our nation.Â